Iron and Steam: A History of the Locomotive and Railway Car Builders of Toronto


302 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-896941-12-5
DDC 338.7'6252'09713541





Reviewed by Gordon C. Shaw

Gordon C. Shaw is professor emeritus in the Faculty of Administrative
Studies at York University.


Iron and Steam recounts the history of the six companies that produced
railway locomotives and passenger and freight cars in Toronto between
1852 and 1918. The companies profiled include the James Good’s
primitive foundry and the Davenport Shops, founded by Canadian General
Electric. A particularly interesting chapter deals with the Canada Car &
Manufacturing Company, which opened a large plant in 1874 next to the
new Central Prison. The company’s experiment in employment soon failed
as a result of insufficient car orders and the inefficiencies of
unskilled labor.

In addition to describing the six companies in some detail, the book
gives an overview of general manufacturing replete with insights into
the lives of both the workers and the entrepreneurs. A brief history of
early Ontario railways is provided as well. The book includes appendixes
describing the various locomotives and rail equipment produced at the
Davenport Shops, a thorough index, and extensive endnotes. Although it
is not an easy read, Iron and Steam is a significant contribution to the
history of railway manufacturing in Canada.


Ashdown, Dana William., “Iron and Steam: A History of the Locomotive and Railway Car Builders of Toronto,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 21, 2024,